Creating Truly Seamless Studio Backgrounds

Paper sweeps are great studio backgrounds, but incorrectly placed lights can bring out textures and inconsistencies in the seamless.

When shooting indoors with a seamless paper background most photographers want to achieve a pure seamless background. It might be white or gray or black or blue or almost any color under the sun, but what it can’t be is a patterned or mottled paper. Yet sometimes seamless paper backgrounds sure don’t look totally smooth. What causes this? And can... Read more

Tasty Angles

Where to place your camera for inviting photos of food

Do you have trouble figuring out what camera angle to use for your food shots? I find that, with the students I teach, this is a common problem. When I first started teaching, I would do a demo in class, where I set up my camera while my colleague, who I was teaching the class with, would set up our food and props for the shot. A student asked me, "How... Read more

Below The Surface

Explore the creative possibilities of underwater photography

Ten years ago, seeking to extend my traditional art background, I picked up a camera and an underwater housing and started "playing in my backyard" with my young daughter as my model. I was also lucky to live nearby clear, warm water, and soon became fascinated by what I found. The spectacular effect of sunlight through water, the dreamlike... Read more

Bearing Witness

Sometimes photos aren’t enough to capture a moment. Photographer Jason Watts helps families document unique periods in their lives. 

One morning in mid-August, as I was scrolling through my Instagram feed, a stunningly simple vintage-style portrait of a young boy caught my attention. The words written across the image, posted by photographer Jason Watts, read, “Bearing Witness.” That image and those words stirred my very soul. I was only two weeks away from traveling across the... Read more

Travel Lighter To Shoot Smarter

Fully mobile photography has changed the game for travel photographers—find out how it can make your shoots better, too

For the entire history of photography, photographers have strived to make the process of capturing an image more portable and more instantaneous. The camera obscura (literally, “dark room”), the precursor to what we know as a camera, was actually a room with a pinhole in it. That’s as immobile as you can possibly get. It was also the starting... Read more

Focusing On Nature

What happens when a portrait photographer turns her eye to the discarded elements in her environment? Images of objects that feel like portraits.

As a photographer, I’ve always been determined to find the kind of hope that illuminates a frame. My eye is trained to see tiny things—the impossible ray of light, the most subtle gesture, the glance that says it all. I love trying to capture the human spirit in my lens; I love even more the invitation to travel and see the world with new eyes.... Read more

Go With The Flow

Capture the silky water effect with these tips and tools

John Lennon said, “Reality leaves a lot to the imagination.” When it comes to your photography, it’s your imagination—your creativity—that makes you who you are. That’s very cool. One of the controls we can use to create our own photographic reality is the shutter speed setting on our cameras. With that simple control, we can alter time—by... Read more

Travel with A Purpose

Planning and focus can be the difference between amazing travel photos and a collection of dull snapshots

Have you ever sat through a friend’s vacation slideshow and dreaded every minute of it? Countless images of cluttered markets, busy landscapes and cliché snapshots blur into oblivion. You nod your head in a daze of encouragement, wanting to be polite, but after the last shot of the cute kid eating ice cream, you can’t take it anymore. If only your... Read more

Why Do You Need a Hair Light?

In studio and outdoors, a hair light can help separate a portrait subject from the background

One of the best ways to increase the production value on any photograph is to add to the illusion of three-dimensionality. Skilled photographers use depth of field, light and shadow to accomplish this, accentuating shapes and separating subject from background in an effort to make it easier to interpret what’s important in an image quickly and easily,... Read more

Gel Your Flash To Mix Light Sources

Alleviate color balance issues with a simple gelled-flash technique

With all the technological advances Digital SLRs have made in recent years, it may seem like there’s literally nothing they can’t do. They can automatically select the appropriate ISO, the shutter speed, aperture, white balance, flash exposure… They can do almost everything automatically and perfectly every time. But the one thing they... Read more

Expand Your Range

Look, ma! No HDR (high-dynamic-range) program or HDR plug-in! That’s right, HDR fans.

ORIGINAL Look, ma! No HDR (high-dynamic-range) program or HDR plug-in! That’s right, HDR fans. The opening image was created in Photoshop using basic adjustments, which I applied with Photoshop Adjustment Layers. In my how-to feature in this issue, we consider when to use HDR techniques and the capabilities of specialized software like Photomatix... Read more

An Automatic ISO Primer

How and why to use the auto ISO feature on your DSLR

For a long time in my photography career, I used digital SLRs just like the film cameras that came before—relying heavily on the manual features that I knew would provide me with total control. But eventually I began to investigate the functionality of all sorts of helpful automatic settings, things like Auto Exposure, Auto White Balance and, eventually,... Read more
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